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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Greenstate Podcast


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics, Health

Resource Types

  • Podcast, 31 minutes, 13 seconds
  • Video, 25 minutes, 59 seconds
  • Podcast, 32 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Podcast, 32 minutes, 35 seconds

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon

Where There's Smoke: Episodes 1-3

Ask a Question

  • This resource hosts a series of three podcasts that cover air quality issues, monitoring, and regulation in the past, present, and future in Oregon and also includes supporting videos, text, and links for further exploration.
  • Each episode is focused on a different period of time and covers a range of topics such as wigwam and field burning, the effects of wildfire smoke and climate change on community health and the environment, and how wildfire season will intensify.
Teaching Tips


  • This podcast series is an excellent example of a news piece that uses research, scientists, and data to discuss an issue related to climate change and public health.
  • The "Past" podcast episode demonstrates how monitoring and regulation can help improve environmental quality because Oregon successfully reduced wintertime air quality issues by reducing wood stove use and regulating industries to comply with air quality standards.
  • The "Present" podcast discusses a relatable topic for many students as it references how wildfire seasons are affecting individuals' health and worsening with climate change.
  • In the "Future" podcast, the narrators discuss how a smoke trends report predicts more intensely smoky days in future summers due to climate change, showing how data is used to inform environmental decision-making. 
  • The podcast hosts continue to recommend tips to help individual health and the environment, such as adhering to burn bans, downloading the Oregon air quality smartphone app to receive alerts, and planning for future smoky summers by installing filters and reducing wood stove use.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with ways wildfires start and spread, and it may benefit them to understand how particulate matter is measured and categorized.
  • Students should have some background in environmental regulations, especially those related to air pollution, like the US Clean Air Act.
  • Some topics, such as the September 2020 wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, may affect some students emotionally.
  • The link to the article about the 21-car pileup due to field burning is broken.


  • Teachers can spread this three-part series over at least four to five days, with students listening to each podcast as homework and then discussing air quality topics in class.
  • Have students investigate how they can find out about air quality figures in their state and encourage them to sign up for alerts if available in their region.
  • Ask students to think of ways to educate the public about air quality and health and have them mock up an art piece demonstrating the information.
  • If students feel comfortable, have them discuss how poor air quality might affect their health or the health of someone they know.
Scientist Notes
This three-part podcast series from Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality discusses the effects of wildfire smoke on air quality. The podcast series, running ~30 minutes long each episode, covers the past, present, and future of air quality. These podcasts, individually or as a set, would make a great addition to classroom discussions about air quality, air pollutants, and wildfires.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any false reasoning or distorted evidence.
      • SL.11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
  • Social Studies
    • Active Citizenship in the 21st Century - Civics, Government, and Human Rights
      • 6.3.8.CivicsPI.4: Investigate the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people’s lives and share this information with individuals who might benefit from this information.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
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